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The Pursuit of Beauty

I'm M.C.A. Hogarth, author and artist. I write fiction (science fiction, fantasy, romance, etc), nonfiction (mostly about business and parenthood) and draw pictures, mostly of dragons, elves and people in beautiful clothes. I am also currently (as of July 2015) serving as the Vice President of SFWA. Below you can see some of what I'm doing currently, and check up on my status.

     Kickstarter: Nothing planned until 2016!
     Patreon (mcahogarth): Get a la carte short fiction, audiobook segments, coloring book sheets, and whatever else I feel like offering up to people who are tipping me!

     Where do I start? Check my recommendations here, with links!
     Latest Releases: You can use my book launch tag to see what was most recently published.
     Newsletter: Here's my newsletter, which you can join for for news and special offers!

     Latest Sale: Originals are for sale here. My Zazzle store offers prints, mugs, shirts, bags and such! Otherwise you can keep up on my offers on Livejournal through my "sale" tag.
     Archive: If you have a lot of spare time and haven't browsed it yet, I have over 3000 images available on my old website, sketches, paintings and comics.
     Deviantart: I also have a DA account at user mcah.

     The Nebula Awards Weekend 2016
     Worldcon 2016

Balance Card 5-Card Readings: Not Available
Balance Card Keepsake Paintings: Not Available
Commissions: Not taking them.
Illustration projects: Not taking them.

Fan Fiction Policy
Explained here.

Typo Reports
If you find typo or formatting errors in my books, please report them here.

P.O. Box
Email me for my address, if you'd like to request materials or send a tip or donation.

Please keep your language PG-13 and your icons work-safe while visiting. Thank you!
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Trying to incorporate now what I've learned from both smudge_dragon and ruggels.

Some emotional stuff, first!

Jaguar STAHP face

This was mostly about body language, and trying to remind myself that I don't have to have respect the "box". Having her hand "cover the lens" was my way of trying to shake myself out of treating it as a rigid piece of portraiture.

Another "let's think about where the box is and where the character is positioned in relation to the box" thing, where the idea was "let's have it be jack-in-the-box like, with her popping out of 'nowhere'."

This is one where I wish I could use Smudge's advice more about timing, but I'm still trying to figure out the timing tools in the program I'm using. Still, recognizing that I want to mess with the timing is handy, because it means these things are now entering my mental radar.

Then, now that I've practiced and thought about everyone's advice, I re-did the jaguar-dance:

It's a little annoying to have to truncate longer things at 24 frames, but I'm not sure if it's "$150 to upgrade" annoying. >.>

Whatever the case, I like this one a lot more, up until the last couple of frames when I realized 'oh crud, I'm running out of my 24 frames, I need to end this fast'. I like the 'oh, hey, I'm sweaty and hee hee embarrassed I guess I'll stop' as a story idea, but it really wanted a little more time to execute it properly.

Still having fun!

On my list I have 'jaguar blush' and 'some Ai-Naidar' (and yes, 'flitzbe doing something', though what I don't know. Rolling around, maybe.) We'll see what I feel like doing next. |)

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Current Mood: amused amused

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Look, Mom! Color! :)

I wanted to default to something simple this time, and something I care about, and that would be facial expressions. I had fun doing the final frame with the little dimple of the cheeks that curves the lower eyelid up.

The other couple of things I was thinking about was the location of the highlight (should stay the same, though the irises are moving!) and the fact that pupils change size depending on the amount of light shining on them, and your emotional state (this is pretty complex and poorly understood right now). Watching people blink—yes, I do that—I've noticed as the eye starts shutting, the pupils widen, and then they constrict again while the eye's opening because light's coming back in again. I was also thinking about that "when you look at people you love, your pupils dilate" thing (which is very probably related to dopamine, and sexual attraction), which is why the final frame there has larger pupils. I wasn't particularly aiming for sexual attraction, but I wanted the facial expression to look loving and relaxed.

So, yeah. I spent all this particular animation thinking about those things. I don't know that I communicated any of them usefully, but it was fun, and I think smiling jaguar looks glad to see you, which was the intent.

Also, I think too much. (This just in.)

Back to writing. >.>

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Current Mood: bemused

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Someone asked for honey badgers? So I have done wiggly bad animation of honey badgers! In this case, ursulav's Comedic Badger is totally unsurprised by Dramatic. Also, Book > All Things.

This time, I took a little bit of ruggels and smudge_dragon's advice and did a 24x2. (But not that many frames; I think it's only 10, which after the "2" factor became 20.) I think it looks a little better! But I obviously still don't know what I'm doing. That's okay, though. It's so much fun to be a complete neophyte. There's such emphasis on instantly being perfect at things... I think we lose the realization that there's a joy in being messy and ignorant and figuring things out and knowing how much there is to learn. There's no expectation that you'll do anything except get better because there's nowhere to go but up, you know? It's not like when you're already working at a high level in your craft and all your increases in skill are so incremental you might be the only one who notices them... and everyone notices your mistakes, because you're an expert and you should be past that point.

I can make tons of mistakes animating, and it's totally okay. Because I'm a newb, and tyros are allowed to not know what they're doing. It's so freeing. :)

Having said that, though, I don't know what to do with animation from a business perspective. I guess I can see using it for future Kickstarter videos? That might be fun! For now, though, it's my jaguar-treat for putting the words in on the novel, even when I'm tired or have too much brain fog to remember any nice vocabulary. Sooooo much brain fog. -_-

Anyway. Enjoy wiggly badgers!

Oh, and yes, because I must follow my own advice. If the wiggle drawings delight you, and you wish to buy me a cup of coffee, via Paypal! (Or buy me a cup of coffee once a month, via Patreon!)


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Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Alphaville - Spirit of the Age

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I did this one yesterday before reading all of ruggels's handy commentary, so I didn't have a chance to incorporate any of the things he suggested! But I still enjoyed doing it, even if I ran out of frames before I could get the Queen fully launched. :)

But I'm doing more than animating badly! I am also prepping book stuff. For instance, I did a great title page for the e-book of Amulet Rampant that had a Chatcaavan word in the backdrop... but Books 1 and 2 of the series don't have that. So I decided to fix that, and did Books 4 and 5 in the bargain:

I am excited about tidying up all the existing editions to match. I like making things prettier. And yes, since I know some of you will inevitably ask, the words behind the titles:

    EtW = "To do/defy"
    STT = "to be deserving"
    AR = "to change"
    OtO = "to give"
    FR = "to live"

Because if I can layer additional symbolism in there, why not, right??

Writing continues as well. I am slowing down a bit because the work situation is getting busier as I close in on my last week. (Next Thursday is my last day!) But I'm still chugging along at 4-5 pages a day, and I'm pleased with the way the narrative is shaping up, pacing-wise. A lot of my books tend to tight viewpoints: either single person or two people. Handling something like this where we're following four or five people at once is... new! But it's the only way to tell this particular story. And happily, as usual, I am being delightfully surprised by things that are happening. I know lots of people say the only way to write quickly is to become a stellar outliner. I am glad outlining works for them. Maybe outlining would make me Even Faster than I am already. But part of what I love about writing is surprising myself with the plot twists, and if I knew what would happen in advance I wonder if I'd even bother, you know?

I trust Fred. I tell Fred where I want to end up and let him drive, and I do not joggle the elbow.

But anyway. Enjoy the wiggly dragons! And if you'd like to see me animate something badly, tell me! (So far, leading suggestions off twitter are "the Slave Queen shifting shape" and "Vasiht'h lying down," because apparently y'all's faith in my mad animating skillz is boundless. Lol. :) )

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Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Alphaville - Wishful Thinking

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Clip Studio's new version includes an animation menu and... I have no idea what I'm doing but I had to try it. Lol!

Maybe the animators on my Flist can give me some clues, because there were folders and timelines and I couldn't figure out why I couldn't just do unlimited cels on top of one another....

The drawing part was tremendous fun! (The confusing menus, not so much, though.)

But anyway. Wiggly jaguar twirling!

Edit: Oh wait, I did another one! Did you know the Jokka's ears moved? I didn't!

Click to see!

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Current Mood: lol
Current Music: Alphaville - Wishful Thinking

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The good news! I accidentally won NaNo yesterday racing rowyn by writing 50K (about 200 paperback pages) of Princes' Game Book 4 in 19 days!

The bad news (which is sort of good news!) is that I no longer think this is a 400-page book. It feels more like a 500-600 page book. So... yay more fiction for you all! Boo, it's going to take me longer to get to the end.

I think y'all will be happy, though. There's so much going on in this and Book 5, and Book 5 doesn't really end it either... just brings it to a place where we can springboard into multiple other series where we see what happens to the universe and all its movers and shakers.

Yesterday there was drawing!


Not much drawing, but I am still dragging myself out of my shell-shock, and I am still short on time. The difference is now I have hope, you know? So I inked an old piece (from last year!) and did a quick sketch of some mermaids befriending a bemused dragon, and that was fun.

Meanwhile, speaking of art:

Lots of Dragon & Unicorn pieces are going out this week! Thank you, buyers. You are the awesome. ❤️

Finally, a song! I found this one off a Christmas gift provided by a snow leopard (*eyes said snow leopard in case he wants to come forward*). I hadn't had the time to rip the CD until yesterday, and lo! I found at least a couple of songs that are perfect for my current WIP's playlist. Alphaville's lyrics are... kind of out there, and I've always found there's lots of room in them for Story.

    You're so full of hate, you need a vacation
    So full of lust, you need liberation
    You need damnation, you need salvation
    You're so full of hate
    Spirit of the age

Seems appropriate for an Empire of dragons in trouble. Also, it is a catchy, catchy song. All the yay!

I have stuff I want to get to (like my review of the Moleskine Smart Writing Set), but I am not only barreling toward the end of Day Job (now I get to sit on interviews for my replacement!), but I'm only a few weeks out from heading to Chicago for the Nebula Conference, eeeeeeeeeee. Excite! So way too much going on. Also, my head is crowded full of Story and that always makes me agitated. Some people wonder why I write so quickly; the most honest answer to that is "because it makes my head feel sick and too full unless I get it out as fast as I can." (That's 'why'. The answer to 'how do you write so quickly', for me, was 'practice').

So hopefully more to come. *bounces*

*bounces bounces*

Did I mention I had Turkish coffee earlier?

*bounce bounce bounce bounce*

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Current Music: Spirit of the Age - Alphaville

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rowyn and I continue our tag-team writing. Now with funnies on Twitter.

Which was a mental image I couldn't resist...

With apologies (more or less sincere) to Arnold. >.>

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Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Duran Duran - Hungry Like the Wolf

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Today for the first time in ages, I went to a coffee shop and spent an hour drawing outside. On purpose. For fun. With the birbs singing, and people chatting with me, and some chocolate and a cup of ice water forgotten, condensing rivulets on the table where it could worry me about getting on my paper.

I'd forgotten how wonderful it is to draw. I still don't have a ton of time to do it, but I can feel that free time coming in two and a half weeks and I tasted a little bit of it today.

I have been crazy-busy because for some reason Day Job has come down on me like a ton of bricks (maybe it senses my impending escape). Also, we filed a tax extension and I've been busy getting all the additional info my accountant wants (think that's done finally!). And I am writing like a crazy-writing-thing around all my other whirlwind responsibilities (44% complete now!). And I just sold a metric ton of artwork and did a lot of shopping to ship it because I have run out of things like backing material and plastic sleeves. And the Nebula Conference is right around the corner and I am going and it is going to be awesome and I am going to have food with people from Amazon and Bookbub and a billion other exciting people and I am going to miss my family like crazy but I will be doing useful things. And I am thinking things like "I'd like to re-organize my closet into a proper supply closet instead of the mess it is now" and "I need to re-do how I track expenses/revenue/taxes" and those are good thoughts.

It is a little scary to think I might be able to complete the transition into this being my Real Life. And I have you all to thank for it.

I drew pictures for fun today.


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Current Mood: ❤️

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I started this book 15 days ago and it is 37% done. I am going fast enough to have to ice my own wrists to keep them from falling apart. But I want it to be done!

Have a snippet:

It is not very spoilery. Yay, Jahir and Vasiht'h care about each other! You are so surprised. >.>

Very fun part: rowyn and I are both writing drafts of a new novel and we both started on the same day and we have been tag-teaming each other ever since. Right now she's ahead of me by about 6000 words, but I'm gonna catch up. This is honestly the most fun I've had writing. Our running joke is that she's on fire, like a volcano-level of fire, and I am (ill-advisedly) attempting to row my way after. Into the lava. (This joke made more sense at its inception.) I convey my progress with the level of boat emoji. On good days, it's a speedboat. On other days, Imma rowin' in mah rowboat. >.>

Right now I'm still working this in all around Day Job's excesses, though, so I anticipate it going more quickly once I've disentangled myself again. It had been my plan to do four novels a year and I'd resigned myself to losing one of those books to the mess at the beginning of the year. But I'm back on track! *fingers crossed* Let's see how it goes.

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Current Mood: working working working
Current Music: His Infernal Majesty - The Sacrament

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Cover Concept, Quick Sketch

Book 1's cover was Lisinthir and his two dragons, for obvious reasons.

For equally obvious ones, Book 2 was Lisinthir, Jahir and Vasiht'h.

Book 3 ("the tryst book"), had Jahir's throat.

It's the Emperor's turn now.

Those of you who've been waiting for him to bleed...

     The Admiral-Offense met the Emperor’s eyes.
     “No,” the Emperor said.
     “Yes. You must. They’ve come for you, Exalted. And if they are so determined to see you dead—and so convinced it would take this much to kill you—you must not be taken. And you will be taken if you stay here.”

Are you excited yet?

*grins evilly*

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Current Mood: devious
Current Music: Assemblage 23 - You Haven't Earned It

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Some of you might remember me doing these pieces from when I was writing Some Things Transcend. I didn't do any while writing Amulet Rampant, mostly because I was so exhausted by work that I didn't have the spare cycles for it. I'm writing Book 4 now, Only the Open, and while I'm still exhausted from work I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. So I decided to start doing these again. And naturally, since Books 4 and 5 feature more female characters—and in particular, Sediryl—it seemed only natural that it was time to introduce her to the illustrations...!

Don't let her delicacy fool you. There's a reason I gave her a nice long horn. Like a lance.

Several of you have asked if these are for sale. The answer is not only "yes," but that six of them have sold and another's been claimed! If you are at all interested in owning one of the originals, I encourage you to pick one up while you can. You can see them at the DA gallery (with the exception of these new ones, which I haven't scanned yet). Most of them measure 1"x6", though a few of them (like "Passion", and obviously "White Dragon Vs. Evil") are larger; the 1"x6" ones are $150 US, with the exception of "Fight Together", which is $200. The bigger ones I'll price if someone asks for them.

For those of you who don't want original artwork, I'm considering doing a small book with all of them, once I feel like I have enough. I just have no idea how I'd format it. Do I want to talk about the inspiration for them? Do I want to refer to the books they illustrate? (The ones with Vasiht'h in them would be mysterious otherwise!) Do I want it to have no text at all? Should I try to form a new narrative out of them? I don't know!

But anyway. I anticipate doing more of these. I have added Sediryl-unicorn. Obviously, I need to add in Slave Queen dragoness! She's only appeared once before!

Oh, it is fun to do art again. Even if it's small. I can see bigger projects from here. :)

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Current Mood: gel-pen-ink-smeared
Current Music: Marc Almond - Tears Run Rings

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It's time for another edition of Cool Stuff Saturday! Some Kickstarters first:

     • Dolls/Action Pals with darker skin colors. More variety is good! People are beautiful in all their shapes and colors.

     •Mermaid coloring book! by our own ellenmillion! Gorgeous linework, very detailed.

     •Daron's Guitar Chronicles, Omnibus 3 (but you can get Omnibus 1 as a prize!) by ceciliatan. A coming-out/coming-of-age story about a rock guitarist set in the 80's. So good! Though when did the 80's become historical fiction. *cries*

     •Luminoodle! Portable USB lighting. I backed their first KS and liked it so much I'm backing this one. I'm planning to put my noodle in the car so I have emergency lighting in case I need it.

     •The project for Jess's Gryphon Books is 9 days to ending, and already over $26K! Wow. But so deserving!


Books now:

     • The Art of Atari book isn't out yet but it looks like a must-have for us nostalgia-folks!

     • SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient--Powered by the Science of Games was a fantastic read, about how to abstract the concepts of gaming and apply them to your life to help you improve it. Loved it. I have considered getting a paper copy, in fact, so I can put sticky notes and highlighter all over it.

     • Centaur of the Crime: Book One of 'Fantasy and Forensics' (Fantasy & Forensics 1) is a light-hearted bit of adventure/fluff. If you're tired of grimdark urban fantasy, this portal fantasy that transports a medical forensics woman to a fantasy kingdom with talking griffins, fawns, owls (and of course, people) will probably be a breath of fresh air.


And finally, in the recipes section: Better than Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. Sinfully wonderful because you can choose how much sugar you want to add, and how dark you want the chocolate to be. (And as you know, I love it dark, so I got to make the most bittersweet, complex, and delicious nutella evar.)

What about you all? What cool stuff have you seen floating out there? Patreons, Kickstarters, media, deals, recipes?

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Current Mood: working working

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Using the tablet for quick joke art continues to be my favorite application of drawing digitally.

More seriously! As I have money—which has now become a somewhat more urgent question—I have been taking my riding lessons, usually at the rate of one a month. I have successfully learned how to post a trot, which took me five lessons and I was absurdly proud of myself for having finally gotten it! Interestingly, what made it click for me was having the trainer get up on the horse and show me what it looked like; trying to "feel" my way through it wasn't effective, I suppose because I am too intellectual and visual a learner. Body kinesthetic stuff fails for me a lot unless it's limited to hand-eye coordination... that I can do most excellently. The rest of it, though? I'm lucky if I know where my body is in space. Asking me to feel it in order to figure out how to move... let's say it requires optimism.

Having figured out what it feels like, though, I am left with the abrupt and humbling conclusion that I'm not strong enough to do it consistently or properly. My poor trainer... she had me do a round while trying not to hold on to the saddle and when we were done she said, "So... now that you've tried it without using your arms to balance yourself, which part of your leg do you think is the problem?"

"Um," I said. "All of them?" And started laughing. (I laugh a lot during lessons. My trainer has a dry sense of humor.)

Nevertheless, my comment was entirely meant. There's not a muscle in my leg or core that can handle the duties of keeping me posting without careering off the saddle or having to hang on for dear life with my hands. I am accustomed to thinking of myself as being out of condition, but I'm not accustomed to thinking of myself as globally weak, in every muscle. It is a startling thing to realize. Unavoidably, I start extrapolating: "How did people do this before stirrups?" "How do people stabilize themselves well enough to shoot an arrow?" "What kind of body strength does it take to take a lance to a shield on your arm and not get tumbled off your saddle?" "HOW DID PEOPLE DO THIS WHEN THIS WAS THE BEST MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION WHAT THE HEY BARBEQUE"

I love it, though. Because the lesson horses are so placid, and because when I get up there, my cellphone is somewhere else, and my purse, and my life, and the only thing I've got to concentrate on is trying to learn something that generations of people have learned, and that is amazingly relaxing in the multitasking, focus-shattering world we live in. And I love the mystery of it. Who ever had the idea 'I'll just jump on that thing's back?' Good Lord. Genius, but insane.

And, like I said, I laugh a lot. Any day I can get slobbered on by a horse is better than a day without a horse in it.

(And yes, that image up there happened. Trainer was amused.)

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Current Mood: amused amused

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When I started this monthly card draw last month, I drew the Maze. As many of you are aware, my deck operates on opposing pairs, so each card exists to exemplify one half of a specific archetype or theme. In the pair that speaks about life direction, the Maze represents... well. "Future hazy, try again later." The Maze is 'there's no clear way before you,' as opposed to its opposite, which is 'you know the way to go. It's right in front of you.'

The Maze was a great card for me in March, because I was in a bad place, with no good choices and no idea what to do. If you look at the image I drew for it, you can feel it: the lit lantern that barely illuminates and the hazy suggestion of a vast and unnavigable labyrinth. There was hope there, but it was stubborn hope, and dim, in the face of a much greater despair.

Oh God! cried the artist. Show me the way! HELP!

Within a month, things started happening, and many of them were scary (and still are) but it was obvious that a path was being illuminated... that the Divine Presence was hanging signs pointing to it, that They were, in fact, standing there and thrusting fingers at it insistently.

Skeptical Jaguars are Skeptical, though. And risk-averse.

April 1 came around. A friend said to me, "Have you drawn yourself a card yet?" And I said, "No." This happened at night, and the deck was in my drawer, and I certainly couldn't see anything. I grabbed the first card I felt and brought it into the light and it was...

The Maze's opposing card. The Path.

That was the point at which I thought, There are only so many clues you should ignore before you should stop, because at some point they are going to come down like the finger of God and I hear that's kind of painful. As you can see from the picture I drew, though, I felt a little like a sulky teenager. "I GOT THE MESSAGE THE FIRST TIME even if I ignored it, and also the second time, and the third time, and..."

My meditation for April, then, is about refusing to accept the gifts that come to you. Maybe the Path will be strewn with rocks and studded with pits filled with jaguar-eating piranhas. But until you walk the Path, you won't know that. And in the meantime, you are throwing away a perfectly good gift for fear that it won't be as awesome all the way through.

Sometimes, the cake is not a lie. Remember that, friends. And pass the fork.

Standard disclaimer: this meditation is not meant as Serious Advice or replacement for counseling. Feel free to accept or reject its story as you please.

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Current Mood: rueful

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